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Create a Calm Environment for Your Pet

I don’t know about you, but as a pet parent, I want my house to be a place that reflects the style and needs of myself and my husband, but is also a place where Rooney can feel comfortable and relaxed. Today, on our continued journey of 30 Days to the Best Pet Home, I want to talk about some ways that you can make your home a calm environment for your pet along with a few additional training resources.

Providing your pet with a calm and stress-free environment requires a combination of providing for their basic needs and then adding additional calming elements where necessary (depending on your pet’s anxiety or stress level). Let’s get started!

Access to Food & Water

Of course, you are going to provide your pet with food & water. In addition to providing the essentials, however, make sure that they have frequent & comfortable access to their food and water. For example, if your pet is afraid of certain objects in your house (ahem…vacuum, we are looking at you!) then make sure they are far from your pet’s food and water bowls. Additionally, if your pet is tall (perhaps a Great Dane), then it might be worthwhile to invest in raised food and water bowls to make eating and drinking easier on their neck and back.


As the ol’ saying goes, “a tired pet is a good pet”. Pets that are anxious and have built up energy tend to exhibit unwelcome behaviors and ultimately, are not calm and relaxed in their own home. Providing them with a place to exercise (whether that’s outside or inside) is really important for your pet’s physical and mental health.

Of course, a place to exercise inside might be difficult if you are talking about a very large dog. In these cases, make sure that you have room for your dog to gallop and play outside in addition to their daily walks and other activities. It is also important that cats get their daily exercise and play time, especially if they are indoor only.

Mental Stimulation

Mental stimulation goes hand-in-hand with exercise. Providing your pets with games and stimulation in your home will help them calm down with the rest of the family. Making the games interactive with other family members will also help strengthen family bonds.

A photo posted by Chewy (@chewy) on

Make sure your pet has easy access to games so that they can tell you when they want to play and engage.

Environmental Scents

Pheromones & Essential Oils can be solutions for calming your pet.

Pheromones are species-specific and will mimic natural environments for pets in order to make them feel calmer. These products are sold in plug-in form, sprays, and collars. While I have never used pheromones on my own pets, I have worked for veterinarians who carried these products and sold them to our clients who had nervous/anxious dogs and cats. Please discuss these products with your veterinarian prior to making purchases.

Lavender can be used as an essential oil to calm both dogs and cats. However, this topic of essential oils for pets has been highly controverted in the past. Therefore, I would recommend always speaking with your veterinarian before using essential oils for your pet. 

Classical Music

A 2012 study from the Journal of Veterinary Behavior concluded that classical music was linked to calm and relaxed behavior.

According to an article by Trupanion;

“In the study, 117 dogs of various breeds were analyzed for various behaviors over a four-month period. The dogs’ behavior was recorded every five minutes as they were exposed to three different genres of music. As you may have been able to guess, classical music was related to relaxed and restful behavior while heavy metal was linked to more anxiety.”

Crate/Established Space

Pets like to have a space to call their own. For dogs, it might be their dog bed or crate. For cats, it might mean a quiet bed under a chair or in a nice sunny spot. Either way, be sure to provide your pet with access to their favorite spots throughout the day.

For tips on getting your pet used to their crate check out my guest post for 4knines “How to Get Your Dog to Love Their Crate”

Make Changes Gradually

This isn’t always realistic. For example, if you move you might get your keys on Thursday and need to be out of your old place on Friday. However, if time allows, take your pet to visit the new environment and bring some of their stuff (with their scent on it) to the new location to get them used to the new place.

Additionally, try not to leave them alone for long periods of time with chaos in the house. Of course, if you work full-time and you are still unpacking, this might be unrealistic. However, consider taking your pet to a pet hotel or to daycare while you are out of the house and still unpacking.

Moving, renovations and other major changes (like holidays or when the kids go back to school) can be very stressful for your pets. Sometimes, being aware of the stress and making some of the small adjustments suggested in this post (i.e. increasing exercise/play time or playing classical music), can be wonderful for your pet’s stress level.

For the Cats

While a calming environment is important for all pets, I feel that it is particularly important for cats and cat parents. In addition to the items listed above, here are some additional adjustments that can create a calm environment for your cat:

Litter Boxes

Don’t underestimate the placement and number of litter boxes that your cat(s) need. When I worked at the veterinary hospital, we recommended having 1 more litter box than the number of cats in the house.

Regarding placement, pay attention to your cat’s behavior. If they keep peeing in a corner, move their litter box to that corner. Not having consistent access to a clean litter box can definitely increase your cat’s stress levels and cause unwanted behavior.


While dogs can get stimulation from games and indoor exercise, it is imperative for many cat’s well-being that they have an opportunity to observe from above. Catios, perches, and cat trees are an excellent way to provide your cat with the need to observe & escape.

Scratching Posts

Cats scratch their nails on items for a variety of reasons. Specifically, they scratch posts to mark their scent & territory, to stretch, and to remove the dead layer on their nails. A scratching post is important for their mental and physical health, and should be incorporated into your home.

Extra Help

We could all use a little extra help calming our pets now and again.

You may remember an excellent guest post from Beverley Courtney from BrilliantFamilyDog.comTraveling With Your Dog for the Holidays“. Well, she was kind enough to create a free ebook for dog parents:

Calm Down! Step-by-Step to a Calm, Relaxed, and Brilliant Family Dog

Beverley also has 3 other ebooks for pet parents, which you can download at the above link:

Leave it! How to teach Amazing Impulse Control to your Brilliant Family Dog

Let’s Go! Enjoy Companionable Walks with your Brilliant Family Dog

Here Boy! Step-by-step to a Stunning Recall from your Brilliant Family Dog

I don’t know about you, but now I have some reading to do 🙂

Beverley Courtney, author of the book “Calm Down! Six Steps to a Relaxed, Calm and Brilliant Family Dog”, lives in Worcestershire with her four dogs, cat, hens and many tropical fish. She mainly works with puppies and “growly” dogs, always looking to build the bond between dog and owner. Get your free dog training series Top Tips for Turning Your Wild Puppy into a Brilliant Family Dog -a step-by-step guide to changing the things you don’t like about your dog to the things you do like.

If you found any of the above tips helpful for creating a calm environment, it would be great if you could leave me a comment below! 


PetMD | PetMD | Humane Society

Protect Your Pets & Home Against Fleas and Ticks

Day 14 of our 30 Days to the Best Pet Home is all about preventing against fleas and ticks! It’s crucial that you protect your pets from fleas and ticks for a number of reasons. Many pet parents are aware of the basic flea & tick preventatives, but there are also products that you can use to protect your home and keep your pet’s extra safe.

Reasons you should prevent against fleas & ticks:

Flea bite allergy

When I worked at the veterinary hospital, flea bite allergy was one of the most misunderstood diagnoses. Every time we told someone, “we think your dog has flea bite allergy”, their immediate response would be, “no, my pet doesn’t have fleas”. The reality is, your pet doesn’t have to have a flea infestation to have flea bite allergy.

Fleas bite pets all the time. If your pet has been recently treated with a flea preventative, then the flea will die right away. However, if your pet is allergic to the bite itself, then they can still have a reaction. The most typical symptom will be biting their hind end.

If your pet is not treated with a regular flea prevention, they might get several bites on their hind end, and sometimes this results in a hot spot or more severe rash or infection due to intense scratching and itching.

If the word hot spot doesn’t want to make you use flea bite preventative, I should warn you that untreated hot spots in summer months can result in maggots. Yes, you read that right, I have seen it several times, and nothing else in the vet hospital made me feel so ill.

Tick-borne diseases

Unfortunately, tick-borne diseases come in many different shapes and forms. These diseases also affect many different regions of the U.S.

For a breakdown of tick-borne diseases and the regions they affect, I will defer you to a previous blog post “Tick-Borne Diseases”. You should know that I have seen pets affected by these diseases in many different ways. Sadly, I have known pets who haven’t survived the vicious attacks of tick borne diseases.

In addition to tick prevention when you are hiking, camping, and enjoying other outdoor activities, you should discuss with your veterinarian if the Lyme Vaccine is appropriate for your pet.

Flea and tick prevention is a full scale effort

Preventing against fleas & ticks is a full-scale effort

As we have established above, fleas and ticks pose a very real threat to your pet’s health. Therefore, I want to discuss the different ways you can protect your pet and home against fleas and ticks.

1) Regular flea & tick preventative (don’t forget the heartworm preventative too!). Be sure to discuss with your veterinarian the best options and recommendations for your lifestyle and pet.


2) Use natural flea powder products like Urthpet from St. Gabriel’s Organics to prevent an infestation in your home.

St. Gabriel’s Organics was inspired by a family who wanted to bring more natural alternatives to lawn care and pet care. As many of us know, we are learning more each day about the harmful chemicals found in many products available on the market today and many conscientious buyers are looking for alternatives.

What makes St. Gabriel’s Organics more natural?

The key ingredient is Diatomaceous Earth (DE). DE is a natural insecticide. It is completely free of chemicals, but when it comes into contact with insects, it sticks to them and depletes their exoskeletons of valuable moisture.

My favorite application of this product is the ability to use it in homes with dogs and cats (this product is only safe for dogs and cats, do not use in a home with other small pets) to prevent and treat flea infestations. While carefully avoiding contact with your pet’s eyes and ears, you can use UrthPet on their bedding, carpeting, and in and around baseboards.

If you have ever dealt with a flea infestation before, you know that the hardest part is removing the fleas from your house so that the infestation doesn’t return. With these more natural products available, you don’t have to flea bomb your house!

Their product can be used topically ONLY for dogs and cats to control fleas and ticks. However, if you are already using a topical flea and tick preventative talk to your veterinarian before adding this product to your flea & tick prevention. 

While we haven’t had any flea or tick issues yet this Spring, my husband and I are excited to have a natural alternative in our arsenal to protect Rooney.

Please note: we haven’t tried this product yet. Surprisingly, we haven’t seen or dealt with any fleas or ticks this season. Therefore, I can’t speak to the products ability to work until we have these issues. That being said, I wanted to make my readers aware that such products exist! If you have any experience with this product, please leave a comment and share with our community.

If you have any questions about Urthpet, or other St. Gabriel Organic’s products, like their joint supplements, I highly recommend you reach out to them via Facebook messenger:

When it comes to protecting your pet against fleas and ticks, you also need to protect your home. Urthopet has some natural alternatives to help you.

3) My last recommendation is to talk to your veterinarian about the vaccines available for your pet that can help prevent against tick-borne diseases.

Tell me, how often do you deal with fleas and ticks? What do you use as prevention? Are you interested in more natural alternatives?

Disclaimer: I was given these products to review. However, I have not yet used them in my home. I only share about products that I believe My Kid Has Paws readers will enjoy.  

The De-shedding Tool that Will Keep Your Floors Immaculate

Day 13 of our 30 Days to the Best Pet Home is all about the right De-shedding tool! Seeing as Spring is the time when most pets shed their winter coat, I thought this would be the perfect time to discuss the perfect de-shedding tool, and fur-strategy (if you will) so that you can keep your floors looking fur-free as much as possible.

Fur is a constant in our home, and my husband and I do our very best to keep our floors as clean as possible but make no mistake, no one is leaving our home without at least a few Rooney hairs on their clothes. While the shedding doesn’t bother us, I do know that some pet parents find those little “fur tumbleweeds” that make their way across a home to be one of the most frustrating things. Therefore, today I would like to discuss dog breeds that shed the most, the reasons why dogs shed, and a strategy for reducing shedding and cleaning pet hair off your floors.

Dogs that Shed

I want to caution potential pet parents out there. If you aren’t willing to deal with shedding, or you think it might be a point of tension in your home, do your research before adopting a dog! There are definitely breeds that shed more than others.

Here are the Top 10 Heavy Shedders according to

  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Alaskan Husky
  • Labrador Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Siberian Husky
  • Akita
  • Chow Chow
  • Saint Bernard

So if your dog breed is on this list, the following de-shedding tool & clean floor strategy might be the best thing since sliced bread! 

Even though Corgis didn’t make the above list, as a Corgi parent, you will inevitably be dealing with some serious shedding!

Why Dogs Shed

Let’s take a moment to understand more about why dogs shed in the first place!

According to Dr. Becker, there are 3 types of fur that your dog has on their body and 4 reasons your dog might shed.

The 3 types of fur include:

  • Undercoat: provides insulation
  • Outercoat: protects the undercoat from extreme temperatures & water
  • Whiskers: provide sensory stimulation

The 4 reasons your dog might shed include:

  • Regulating body temp
  • Protecting the skin
  • Improve sensory perception
  • If they get nervous or stressed (situational shedding)

The Perfect De-Shedding Tool!

As we have just established, you can’t prevent shedding because it is a natural process for your pet’s body. However, you can use the right grooming tools and strategy to reduce shedding and therefore reduce fur clean up.

The FURminator pet grooming tools have been on the market for quite some time, but last summer they released the FURminator de-shedding tool. The FURminator’s design helps remove the loose hairs that will inevitably shed during a shedding season or throughout the day.

Here are the benefits of the FURminator de-shedding tool according to their website:

  • Reduces shedding up to 90%
  • Keeps your pet’s skin and fur clean and healthy
  • Improves the fur renewal process which reduces skin irritants and allergies
  • Doesn’t cut or damage your dog’s coat due to the unique design
  • Easy to use and ideal for grooming your dog at home

FURminator even improved their product, so it now includes some customization. Their de-shedding tools are specific to the size and hair length of your pet, making it the best possible tool for your pet’s shedding. We have the all hair for medium dogs tool for Rooney.

If your pet doesn’t shed very much (probably because they don’t have an undercoat), this isn’t the tool for you. 

How to Use the FURminator De-shedding Tool:

Petful has some specific tips for improving the use of the FURminator de-shedding tool which I think are great:

  • Make sure your pet’s coat is dry
  • Remove any mats, tangles or foreign objects from your pet’s coat before brushing
  • Check for any bruises or cuts before you start brushing
  • Lastly, use long gentle strokes to brush your pet’s coat evenly
  • Use the correct brush for your dog’s size and coat length

The Clean Floor Strategy

  1. Now that we have established that brushing your dog’s coat regularly can reduce the amount of shedding that occurs, I recommend setting up a time once a week to brush your pet BEFORE you clean your floors.
  2. Spend at least 15 minutes brushing out your pet’s undercoat on a surface that can be easily swept. Because the fur will stick to itself, you will now have a giant pile of fur that can be tossed into the trash can.
  3. Then, I recommend using a Swiffer to gather up the remaining fur tumbleweeds in your home. The Swiffer is the best tool I have used that can gather pet hair and help us quickly clean your floors.

Once you start making this a part of your weekly routine, you should start to see a decrease in your pet’s shedding, AND you will see fewer fur tumbleweeds around your house.

The De-shedding Tool that will Help Keep Your Floors Immaculate

Why You Shouldn’t Shave Your Dog

You may be thinking to yourself, Rachel this is great info, but can’t I just shave my dog in the summer? The answer is no, and here is why:

Your dog’s coat is like the insulation in your home that keeps the house from getting too cold in the winter, and too hot in the summer. Your dog’s coat does the same thing – it works not only to keep her warm in cold weather, but also to protect her from the effects of too much sun. – Dr. Becker

So there it is, the best de-shedding tool, and my clean floor strategy. What do you think?

Disclaimer: I was compensated for my opinion previously by Swiffer. Additionally, I was provided with a FURminator de-shedding tool and Swiffer in a previous campaign. However, My Kid Has Paws only includes products that I believe will provide benefit to my readers. 

Rearrange Your Furniture to Suit Your Pet’s Needs

On Day 12 of our 30 Days to the Best Pet Home, we will discuss rearranging our furniture to suit our pet’s needs. In our home, Rooney’s comfort and needs definitely supersede our own, and we know we are not alone. As much as we love a Rooney approved solution, we also want furniture that fits our needs and blends in well with our decor.

Since Rooney is a Corgi and falls under the “low-rider” category, I’ll discuss the needs of a low-rider dog. A low-rider dog is one that is long and has short legs. Think Dachshund, Corgi, Sussex Spaniel, or Basset Hound. These breeds of dog need their backs protected and their furniture easily accessible. Our couch is nice and low, so our big concern is our bed.

In our home, Rooney's comfort and needs definitely supersede our own, and we know we are not alone. As much as we love a Rooney approved solution, we also want furniture that fits our needs and blends in well with our decor.

Ottomans & Bench Seats

I recently found this great bench seat and my husband had the brilliant idea to put it at the end of our bed so that Rooney can easily jump on and off our bed without risking injury to his back.

See, sometimes our low-riders just need a little extra help, and ottomans and bench seats are a perfect solution to keeping continuity and functionality in your decor while also providing your pet with the exact support they need.

Pet Stairs

In addition to the ottomans and bench seats, there are a few more decor-friendly solutions. Most importantly there are pet stairs like these from Wayfair.

Pet stairs are a great item to train your dog to use early so that they never learn to jump on and off of furniture. We are still working on Rooney’s affinity (or lack there of) for pet stairs.

PupStep Wood 4 Step Pet Stair

PupStep Wood 4 Step Pet Stair

Regular Price:$107.69

See More Dog Ramps & Stairs


Don’t think I forgot about the cats. Cats also need dedicated space within our homes, unless you want to pay the price and get woken up in the middle of the night by a chorus of meows because there was nowhere perfect for lying down.

While I am sure there are plenty of places in your home to put a cat bed, there are a lot of new styles of cat beds that can provide your cat with the coziest place, and fit in well with your decor.

Does your furniture suit your pet’s needs? Do any of your furniture pieces double as a pet bench or bed?

In our home, Rooney's comfort and needs definitely supersede our own, and we know we are not alone. As much as we love a Rooney approved solution, we also want furniture that fits our needs and blends in well with our decor.

REGARDING THE CHALLENGE: I must ask for forgiveness from my readers. I promises you 30 posts in April, and I bit off more than I could chew. We only got through 11 :(. As disappointed as I am in my lack of posting, I promise to make it up to you. So the April Challenge will continue! Don’t worry, May’s Safety Preparedness Challenge will not be overlooked. Stick with me and I promise to get you all of the blog posts you deserve!

Disclaimer: I am part of the Wayfair Homemakers Program. I am occasionally provided with Wayfair products in exchange for my honest opinion. My Kid Has Paws strives to share only products we believe would benefit our readers.

Cleanliness is Next to Dogliness: Keeping Your Pet’s Bowl Clean

Day 11 of our 30 Days to the Best Pet Home is focused on cleaning your pet’s bowls & the easiest pet bowls to keep clean.

If you are anything like me, you are a really busy pet parent. You try to keep the house as clean as you can, but sometimes it’s really hard to keep up with all of your chores. Additionally, I will always choose to take Rooney for a walk over doing my laundry, which means that I am often behind on my daily chores. Therefore, when the weekend rolls around, and we are busy cleaning up our kitchens and backyards, we might forget that it’s also time to clean the pet bowls. But that has to change.

Last week, we shared some important information about proper pet food storage. In many of the articles that discussed pet food storage, authors also mentioned that regular cleaning of your pet’s bowls is just as important as proper pet food storage for preventing your pet from consuming unwanted bacteria. As a matter of fact, according to the Huffington Post, the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) International rated pet bowls as the 4th dirtiest spot in our homes.

Are there real dangers lurking in my pet’s bowl?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. If you haven’t cleaned your pet’s food or water bowl in a while, you might be surprised to learn that there are a variety of potential health hazards lurking in their bowl. Here are 5 threats just to give you an idea:

  1. Serrate Marcescens “Pink Stuff”
  2. Yeast
  3. Mold
  4. Coliform (same family as E.Coli and Salmonella)
  5. Insects

So the question is, what is the recommended frequency for washing your dog or cat’s bowls?

Every day.

That’s right. Dr. Marty Becker’s co-author and pet professional, Gina Spadafori, recommends washing both the food and water bowls every day. Additionally, she recommends washing them in the hottest cycle of the dishwasher to make sure they are thoroughly sterilized (Vetstreet).

What should we use to wash the dishes?

Hot water and soap if you are washing the dishes every day. There are a few articles out there that suggest using bleach, but I wouldn’t use bleach. Bleach can be so harmful if not properly rinsed.

Cleanliness is Next to Dogliness: Keeping Your Pet's Bowl Clean

If you are at all concerned about harsh chemicals in your dish or dishwasher soap, you can always switch over to a more natural alternative. I really like Meyer’s Dish Soaps. Not only do they smell great (their lavender household cleaner smells awesome!), but they are free of the following chemicals:

  • Phthalates
  • Glycol Solvents
  • Chlorine
  • Formaldehyde
  • Artificial Colors
  • Parabens
  • Animal Derived Ingredients
  • MEA
  • DEA

What are the best types of bowls?

Several different sources stated that stainless steel or ceramic bowls are best for cleaning. Here are a few of my favorites!


As a result of my research, I will be washing Rooney’s bowls daily, and placing them in the dishwasher with each available cycle. What changes will you make?